Like it or not, it costs money to make money. Whether it's on commuting, clothing, or dry cleaning, most of us spend a portion of our paychecks just to be able to do our jobs. But effective this year, workers who cover certain job-related costs out of pocket may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
See, it used to be that certain unreimbursed business expenses were deductible on your taxes, provided they exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). But now that a host of tax changes have been implemented, workers no longer get this option. (Note that you can still deduct costs you incurred last year on your 2017 return, which you'll file this year, but going forward, this tax break will no longer exist.)
The solution? Rather than eat those costs yourself, you may want to make the case for your employer to cover them instead. Here are a few expenses worth asking about.
1. Membership dues
Did you join a professional organization at your manager's request? Though doing so could help further your career, there's no reason your employer shouldn't be willing to help with that cost. This especially holds true if your participation in such an organization opens the door to business opportunities that benefit the company more so than you as an individual.
2. Certification costs
Obtaining a professional certification isn't always a simple matter of paying a fee, taking a class, and calling it a day. Many licenses and certifications require ongoing education, which comes at a cost. If your employer insists that you go through this process, you may have to do it on your own time -- but that doesn't mean you should also have to do it on your own dime. Ask your company to cover the cost of your credentials if it's not actually a requirement in your industry.
3. Your mobile phone bill
These days, employees are expected to be available after-hours and on weekends to deal with job-related emergencies, which means they typically need mobile phone access to provide this level of service. If your company has such an expectation, then you may want to approach your manager and ask for help paying your cellphone bill. Furthermore, if work-related matters cause you to eat up a chunk of your data plan, you have every right to request that your company chip in, or at least be willing to cover any overage charges you incur.
4. Specialty software and equipment
Perhaps you're a graphic designer whose work is enhanced due to a specific program. Or maybe you're an IT whiz who recently upgraded your entire company's network by purchasing equipment yourself. No matter the specifics, if you felt obliged to spend your own money to produce better results for your company, you should make that clear to your employer and request reimbursement -- especially if you're unable to use that same software or equipment for personal reasons as well.
Even if your salary is on the generous side, there are certain business costs you shouldn't have to cover on your own. And now that any associated tax benefits have gone away, it certainly pays to have that conversation in which you politely request to be reimbursed. Another option if you're hesitant to make that case? Ask your employer to help subsidize some of those costs so you don't have to pay for them entirely on your own. If you broach the topic respectfully, the worst that'll happen is that your company says no and you're back in the same boat you started in.
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